Traders' fears as '˜unsafe' bridge closed for months
Business owners have issued a desperate plea for support from Blackpool Council following the emergency closure of a dangerously decaying bridge.
An emergency closure was put onto the structure in Harrowside, South Shore on Wednesday.
Inspections revealed serious levels of corrosion in steel parts of the concrete structure which carries the road over the Blackpool South rail line.
The road could be shut for months before repair work can be carried out. And traders in Harrowside fear their businesses will suffer as a result.
They were due to hold showdown talks with Blackpool Council yesterday.
Sue Miller runs Harrowside Chippy.
She said: “We did not know anything, literally, until the closure was put in place.
“It was so sudden.
“Businesses down here are going to suffer, people think the road is closed, they think we are closed.
“A lot of our customers come up off the Prom. We’re going to lose all our Illuminations trade, it’s a disaster.
“We’ve asked the council if they can keep one side open but I’m not hopeful.
“The road might not be open until April. “
Robert Erskine runs Silver Fish Supplies.
He said: “It was so sudden. We were not notified, not at all.
“We live on the bridge ourselves.
“This could affect a lot of trade.
“People have been telling the council about the state of the bridge for a while, we’ve had concerns.”
Works on Harrowside Bridge could be carried out when Network Rail closes the railway between Blackpool and Preston in November.
With no trains running work would be easier.
However, repairs are already planned for the bridge in Squires Gate Lane during the same period.
Blackpool Council says it is likely both bridges will be shut while works are taking place.
The Squires Gate Lane bridge is not thought to be in as bad a condition as the Harrowside structure, but works cannot be delated.
A spokeman said: “The bridge in Squires Gate Lane will be closed in November.
“We are working with Network Rail on a timetable to carry out works at Harrowside.
“Potentially both bridges could be closed at the same time.
“That would not be idea but Harrowside needs to be shut.
“We have no option.
“The work at Squires Gate Lane needs to take place.
“We have to spend the money allocated for that scheme or lose it.”
Concerns have been raised on how the double closure could affect the area.
Mrs Miller said: “It’s going to shut the whole of this part of town off totally and that is very scary.”
Blackpool Council says surveyors commissioned by the authority, not by Network Rail, had identified the issues with the Harrowside Bridge.
What is wrong with the bridge?
Engineers have identified the bridge as a safety risk to the public. Recent checks have revealed that steel reinforcements have corroded by 40 per cent which means that essential repair work will need to take place.
John Blackledge, Director of Community and Environmental Services at Blackpool Council, said: “We have had to close Harrowside bridge with immediate effect due to safety reasons.
“We regularly carry out inspections to make sure road users are safe and a recent inspection revealed that the bridge repairs are required urgently.
“We need to undertake maintenance work to the bridge’s deck supports which is why the bridge will now close until further notice.
Coun Christian Cox, who represents Squires Gate ward said: “It was a very big shock and it is regrettable the bridge has had to close.
“It is a big nightmare for the traders and in theory you could have Squires Gate Lane closed at the same time. Harrowside would normally be the logical diversion so a lot of planning is going to have to happen.
“We have to support the traders in Harrowside as much as we can.”
Coun Derek Robertson, of Waterloo Ward, said: “If the bridge is a danger i has to be closed and the work needs to be done.”